Asee peer logo

Teaching Technical Communications In An Introductory Design Class Through Interventions From The University's Writing Center

Download Paper |


2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Writing and Communication I

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1232.1 - 10.1232.11



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Robert Askew

author page

Cari-Sue Wilmot

author page

Colley Hodges

author page

Richard Bannerot

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1661

Teaching Technical Communications in an Introductory Design Course through Interventions from the University’s Writing Center Colley Hodges, Cari-Sue Wilmot, Robert Askew, Richard Bannerot University of Houston Writing Center/Dept. of Mechanical Engineering


This paper describes the continuing and evolving relationship between the Writing in the Discipline Program in the University of Houston Writing Center and the Cullen College of Engineering. This specific project is an intervention into a sophomore design course in mechanical engineering that took place for the first time in the fall 2004. The paper will describe the development of the course-specific workshops and the establishment of a “draft review” process utilizing a peer Writing Consultant. Student surveys were used to assess the effectiveness of the new process. The student response was positive, but a few students resisted the implementation of a significant writing component into a “design” class. Only minor modifications were implemented as the intervention continues for this spring semester.


Since 1980 the BSME degree at the University of Houston (UH) has required a sophomore design class. Initially, the course covered primarily the design process and design methodology. A semester-long design, fabricate and test team-project was the major component of the course. A team written report was required. The course underwent a major revision in 1991 when the faculty member who initiated and taught the course left the University. However, the course has been taught, each fall and spring semester to between 35 and 65 students since 1980, and the course has continued to evolve. The current course content includes: engineering in the global prospective, the design process, shop practice, introduction to manufacturing, engineering communications, specifications, personality and group issues, codes and standards, intellectual property, engineering ethics, and introduction to engineering economy.

The course is usually the first engineering course taken by a mechanical engineering student. Therefore, part of the course objectives is to introduce students to, and build their confidence in, problem-solving. During a typical semester, one major team project and two or three minor projects (individual or team) are assigned. While the intent, extent, and format of the minor projects change each semester, the format, structure and the evaluation process for the major projects (which change each semester) have evolved to a more or less steady state and remains the single most significant part of the course counting for as much as 50% of the course grade.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference &Exposition Copyright  2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Askew, R., & Wilmot, C., & Hodges, C., & Bannerot, R. (2005, June), Teaching Technical Communications In An Introductory Design Class Through Interventions From The University's Writing Center Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14361

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2005 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015